Issue #555

BF firm’s products play key role in testing

Chroma’s filter technologies let biotech firms develop tests for coronavirus

Restaurants may be closed, supermarkets may display empty shelves, and small businesses may be afraid of going bankrupt, but at least one Windham County company is doing well in the heart of the COVID-19 virus pandemic.

Chroma Technology, which manufactures optical filters for the scientific, biomedical, photonics, and imaging industries, is facing an unprecedented call for its products.

“An optical filter takes light and breaks it into its component colors,” Chroma CEO Paul Millman told The Commons in a March 25 interview. “And there are tests dependent on seeing the fluorescence of something.”

“Sometimes they use our filters at 0 degrees,” Millman continued. “Sometimes they're tilted. Sometimes they're bigger, and sometimes they're smaller. Sometimes they go into a robot. Sometimes they go into a microscope. They're all optical filters.”...

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College news • Morgan K. Brooke-deBock of Brattleboro has been named to second honors on the Dean's List at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. This selection marks outstanding academic achievement during the fall 2019 semester. School news • Seven student-musicians from Brattleboro Union High School earned acceptance into honors...

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Hazelton for WCMUD school board

I am supporting Drew Hazelton of Jamaica for the member-at-large seat on the Windham Central Modified Union District School Board. I have had the pleasure of serving with Drew on Windham Central school committees and am impressed with his dedication, visioning, insight, and knowledge and his concern for high-quality...

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State offers incentives to buy electric vehicles

As an addendum, I want to let readers know about some state incentives to help Vermonters purchase electric vehicles. During the last legislative session, the House and Senate transportation committees voted nearly $2 million for incentives for purchase or lease of plug-in electric hybrid and all-electric vehicles for those with household incomes up to $96,000. The incentives are $1,500 for a plug-in hybrid and $2,500 for an all-electric vehicle. In addition, we voted a larger incentive for individuals from households...

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Support our small businesses as we keep ourselves safe

We are living through an unprecedented time. Vermont is just beginning to feel the effects of the pandemic and its overwhelming economic impacts. Fear and uncertainty are rippling throughout our state as small businesses are suddenly grappling with this new reality with which they are faced. But Vermonters, as we always do in times of hardship, are also coming together (while staying apart) to support one another. As Vermont intensifies its effort to contain the virus and implements important social...

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Around the Towns

Daily virtual support group for domestic violence survivors BRATTLEBORO - The Women's Freedom Center is expanding its support group for domestic violence survivors during the COVID-19 crisis. Starting Monday, April 6, and extending through the month (and beyond if necessary), a daily support group will meet virtually - by videoconference or telephone - Monday through Friday, from noon to 1 p.m. This group is free, confidential, and entirely by drop-in - you can attend as often as you'd like. The...

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Windham Northeast Union Elementary School District plans district meeting without attendees

Voters in the Windham Northeast Union Elementary School District (WNEUESD) towns of Athens, Grafton and Westminster were warned to meet at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 9, at the Bellows Falls Union High School, to vote on a school budget and elect school board members. But given current conditions, the WNEUESD Board has determined that holding that meeting and getting anything done is no longer an option. “At the time we warned the meeting, the Coronavirus outbreak was a localized...

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Aggressive action

As we focus collectively on the threat of the coronavirus and the disease it causes - COVID-19 - I want to assure your readers that the Brattleboro Retreat is taking numerous steps to safeguard the health of our patients, staff, and community. At the same time, we remain focused on our core mission to provide quality mental health and addiction services. In this regard, the Retreat has never been more essential to the state's overall health-care system. Each time we...

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Dover prepares emergency grant program

The Selectboard has approved a new emergency program aimed at supporting local businesses during the time of COVID-19. The Commercial Emergency Assistance Program provides funding for Dover-based businesses hit by closures or other implications of the global pandemic. Using money from taxes collected through the 1 percent local option sales tax, the program grants up to $1,000 a month to qualifying businesses. During its first videoconference public meeting on March 24, the Selectboard allocated $100,000, a “starting point” amount that...

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Scott curbs some travel from out-of-state visitors

Enacting measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus, while necessary, has also put large sectors of the economy on hold. Over several weeks, Governor Phil Scott has issued multiple executive orders: from closing schools, to directing restaurants to provide take-out only, to telling Vermonters to stay home and work remotely if possible. On Monday, Scott issued an addendum to a March 25 executive order, asking for people entering the state to self-quarantine for 14 days. This order restricting travel,

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Communication, connection, and triage

I am writing to reach Windham region business owners and managers as well as leaders of nonprofits who need help responding to the economic calamity we now face as a result of the COVID-19 disease. Businesses and organizations that look to survive the next several months must take swift action to assess and understand their current financial situation. Following Vermont's emergency declaration by Gov. Phil Scott, the BDCC board of trustees, SeVEDS board of directors, and BDCC's entire team have...

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Volunteer effort seeks short-term rental units for temporary COVID-19 workers

The math is simple: In a town with a chronic shortage of affordable housing, if medical personnel have to visit to help with COVID-19 patients, where will they live? Kate Barry says that she has been hearing stories about how difficult it is for temporary health-care workers to find affordable short-term rentals. The Brattleboro-based real estate agent, currently sheltering in place with her family in New Hampshire, owns and manages a set of vacation-rental units with her husband, Bruce Hunt.

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WSESU board appoints new superintendent

The Windham Southeast Supervisory Union School Board has hired Andrew Skarzynski as the new superintendent of schools. According to a March 31 news release, the board said it chose Skarzynski after an extensive four-month search process, citing “his strong management skills, his experience with diverse student populations, and his commitment to student centered learning.” His start date is July 1. “The board looks forward to welcoming Andrew to our organization and to the families that we serve,” said WSESU Board...

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Schoales resigns from Selectboard to make way for Goodnow

Ian Goodnow - whose election March 3 was in limbo because of the postponement of Annual Representative Town Meeting (ARTM) - has taken his place on the Selectboard. During a March 23 special board meeting, the sitting board voted to appoint Goodnow, and he was sworn in as the board's newest member by Town Manager Secretary Jan Anderson. According to the Town Charter, new board members join the board after ARTM at the end of March. This year, however, owing...

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Wangari Maathai’s legacy

April 1, 2020, would have been the 80th birthday of Professor Wangari Muta Maathai, the first African woman and the first environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize, in 2004, “for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.” “Prof,” as she was affectionately known, had a special relationship with Windham County. She had a long friendship with the Guilford Community Church through Rev. Lise Sparrow and was a board member of World Learning. It also happened that two Marlboro...

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Strange times, with silver linings

“After Sept. 11th, I thought I'd seen everything,” a close friend in New York confided to me this week, as President Trump threatened another quarantine. So did I. I moved to New York just after my 21st birthday. I'd landed my dream job on a national news desk at a major media organization, writing and editing stories from around the world. In the next several years, I would handle every type of breaking news imaginable: the U.S. election recount, 9/11,

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Virus testing site opens at Landmark College

As part of an initiative to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 patients, Landmark College has agreed to become one of a number of additional temporary sample collection sites across the state to test Vermonters. Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Luciani received the March 27 request from the Vermont Department of Health and, after some internal discussion, the college offered use of a parking lot as a testing site. The Vermont National Guard assembled the site over the weekend. In...

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Local distilleries meet pandemic demand — not with booze, but with hand sanitizer

Augustus “Gus” Metcalfe arranges clear plastic bottles on a long metal table at Vermont Distillers in West Marlboro. It's a 180-degree turn for business as usual at the distillery, one of two such operations in Windham County that have pivoted to the manufacture of hand sanitizer - a product that has been in short supply as the coronavirus pandemic has loomed. Last week, Ed Metcalfe, the company's proprietor and president (and Gus's dad), added a small batch of hand sanitizer...

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